A's lock up catcher Kurt Suzuki through 2013

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The A’s on Friday signed popular catcher Kurt Suzuki to a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $16.25 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
The new deal replaces the one-year, $420,000 contract Suzuki signed prior to 2010. He would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time in the offseason. Now all three of his arbitration years are spoken for, and there’s a vesting option for 2014, his first year of free agency, that could make the deal worth $25 million-$26 million.
It seems like a pretty high price for the A’s to pay considering Suzuki’s modest numbers. He did drive in 88 runs last year, but he’s not going to match that number this season after spending time on the DL in May with a strained intercostal muscle. He finished with OPSs of 716 and 734 in his two full seasons, and he’s at 724 at the moment.
That only scratches the surface of Suzuki’s value to the team, though. While he did miss time this season, he was among the major league leaders in catching 141 games in 2008 and 135 in 2009. He’s regarded as an above average defender, particularly when it comes to calling games. And, at age 26, he figures to remain a very solid player for the duration of the deal.
So, he’s quite likely to be worth his salaries under the terms of the extension. Whether he would have done better in arbitration is another matter. Given his unspectacular batting averages and home run totals, he certainly wasn’t going to break the bank, and the A’s might have been able to save some money by going year to year with him.
However, that’s not a risk they were willing to take. At least this does settle the matter of whether Suzuki will be traded. He was frequently asked about, though never offered around, and now that he’s locked up, his name figures to go absent from the rumor mill for at least the next year and a half.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.